Dame Barbara Windsor on Peggy Mitchell's final EastEnders scene: 'I couldn't speak afterwards'

Dame Barbara Windsor has opened up about filming her final scene for BBC One's EastEnders and, unsurprisingly, it was emotional for all involved. For more than 20 years Barbara, 78, has portrayed iconic Peggy Mitchell, who viewers will soon see leave Albert Square for the last time.

Earlier this year producers of the award-winning soap broke hearts across the nation when Peggy returned briefly to tell son Phil that her cancer had returned – and it was terminal. Barbara has since revealed that it was her choice to kill off Peggy, otherwise she would never be able to resist the temptation of returning for filming.

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Peggy Mitchell visits the doctors with niece Ronnie in upcoming scenes

Speaking to The Sun about Peggy's final moments, Barbara revealed: "I couldn't say anything [afterwards]. I knew if I opened my mouth I would sob. I couldn't do that because this is my choice and it's the right thing for me. But I will miss Peggy and everyone at EastEnders."

Barbara added: "Everyone knows I love EastEnders but I made the decision a while ago that I needed to say goodbye to Peggy once and for all. Otherwise she would always be there, urging me to go back."

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Barbara Windsor managed to bring Ross Kemp back with her

And it's not just the family matriarch who's making a brief comeback: Grant, played by Ross Kemp, and Danniella Westbrook as feisty Sam will return for the heart-breaking scenes, bringing the Mitchells back together one last time.

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"It's been wonderful," Barbara continued. "Ross and I were a bit nervous but we've had a terrific time. I think of Steve and Ross as very, very dear friends. I've been blessed to have them as my screen sons, as they are great actors. I couldn't have come back and filmed my final scenes without us all together."

Although from next Monday viewers will be preparing to say goodbye to Peggy, Barbara insists she will never turn her back on EastEnders.

She added: "The show will always remain close to my heart. I'll never stop caring, it's the best thing I've ever done in all my 60 years in the business."